Adopt a Tree

Adopt a Tree

Location: indoor, outdoor, or both

Materials: a nearby tree, ideally one you can see from a window in your play space and when you're outdoors

The goal of this activity is to develop a longer term relationship with a tree outside your house. This relationship can become a launching pad for so many learning opportunities. It will allow your children to make observations, ask questions, make hypotheses, notice seasonal changes, and so much more.

This isn't something that will happen over night, but rather over the course of many days and weeks. Rather than an intense study of the tree, think of this is something you return to again and again, whether in group discussions or one-one-one conversations.

To start, you might read a book about a tree, and then introduce your kids to the special tree you have in your yard or outside your house. Possible book titles:

You can invite your kids to help you give the tree a name. You can brainstorm ideas and then introduce the idea of voting to decide on the most popular name. Or feel free to give it a name of your choosing and introduce it as such to the kids.

The tree can become part of your daily conversation, or can be something you just talk about once in a while. "What's Mrs. Tree up to today?" might be a question you ask at morning meeting, and invite a child to go to the window and look and report back.

Over time learn more about the tree with your kids: what kind of tree is it? what do its leaves look like? what does the wood look like? how does it change with the seasons?

Create a science exploration area with related materials. Your kids can collect leaves, sticks, and bark from the tree. Pair them with magnifying glasses, paper, and crayons.

Possible Extensions:

  • Invite your kids to draw the tree in an observation journal
  • Create a replica of the tree inside your classroom. Change it to represent what is happening with the tree in real life. Invite your kids to collaborate on the project. For example, if a child observes a squirrel in the tree, you can suggest adding a picture of a squirrel to the tree in your classroom
  • Dive into the types of animals that might live in your tree
  • Explore what your tree needs to live
  • Use paper and crayons to do rubbings of the bark to record its texture
  • Plan to eat snack in the shade of the tree once in a while.

What We're Learning:

  • language and vocabulary development
  • scientific thinking
  • making observations of the natural world